County council axes 60 jobs in a bid to save £4million

This is The West Country: County council axes 60 jobs in a bid to save £4million County council axes 60 jobs in a bid to save £4million

SIXTY jobs will be axed at County Hall after councillors rubber-stamped proposals to make £4million cuts to next year’s budget.

The ‘ambitious’ project will also see school bus journeys scrapped and replaced by walk to school routes, less spending on verge cutting, weed control and drainage, and more than 300 council jobs transferred into trusts or other businesses.

The county’s 54,000 street lights will be replaced with LED lamps, and some of them will be dimmed or turned off overnight, which the council says will save £300,000 a year.

The cost-cutting measures, voted for last week at Shire Hall, are the first of a series of cuts as the council faces a £106million ‘black hole’ in its finances over the next four years – including £30.4million from its 2014-15 budget.

The TaxPayers’ Alliance has slammed an online Balancing Act budget game, roadshows and staff costs which totalled about £40,000.

Conservative council leader Cllr John Osman said views from the public at roadshows and the budget game helped councillors make their decisions.

He said: “This is a very tough year for Somerset and this first phase of savings has been incredibly difficult. In some cases we’ve changed or even stopped suggested proposals as a result of what we’ve learned [from public consultations].”

Conservative and UKIP councillors backed the measures with LibDem, Labour and Independent members voting against. Further comprehensive savings proposals will be discussed early next year as the council sets its annual budget.

LibDem opposition leader Cllr Sam Crabb described the cuts as a massive mistake, saying: “We all appreciate that the council’s budget is much reduced but cutting first and not looking at other viable options is a massive mistake.

“It means the people of Somerset suffer by losing the services many rely on. “All local authorities are facing the same level of cuts to their budget but many are thinking outside the box and increasing revenue by sharing services or increasing fees for some services.

“To just simply cut services is not acceptable.”

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